Response to the First Opinion: Legalizing Marijuana
I agree with the opinion that the use of marijuana should be legalized. The drug control policies have failed to prevent the use of marijuana in the country. This is based on the fact that a high percentage of the citizens are still able to access and use it despite its criminalization.
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Thus it will be better to focus on formulating policies that regulate the use of the drug since the policies that aim at preventing its use have failed. Just like any other drug, the use of marijuana will be regulated once it is legalized. This means that the government will enact laws that prevent excessive use of the drug to avoid the health risks associated with it.
Due to the large number of citizens who are currently using the drug illegally, the government is spending a lot of money to apprehend marijuana offenders. Besides, criminalizing the drug has forced those who use it to engage in unlawful activities such as bribery and smuggling to access the drug. Consequently, a high percentage of the government’s funds are being used to prevent the use of marijuana at the expense of other security issues.
Therefore, it will be better to invest in regulating the use of marijuana as compared to preventing its use. Even though the use of marijuana is associated with various health risks, such risks can always be managed. The government can introduce awareness programs to sensitize the citizens on the dangers of excessive use of the drug. Such programs have already been used successfully to manage the health risks associated with the use of tobacco and alcohol. Thus marijuana should be legalized.
Response to the Second Opinion: Criminalizing Marijuana
I disagree with the opinion that marijuana should be criminalized due to the following reasons. First, health risks such as impaired attention, lung cancer, and schizophrenia that are associated with the use of marijuana can also be caused by legalized drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.
Thus why should marijuana be criminalized due to the health risks associated with it yet other drugs that cause the same health risks have been decriminalized? Second, the regular users of the drug normally develop personal norms and values that help them to use the drug responsibly. Regular users also tend to reduce the rate at which they use the drug over time. This means that the use of marijuana is not very addictive as it is believed to be. Thus the health risks associated with marijuana are not likely to be very serious.
Third, the level of availability of marijuana in countries that have criminalized it and those that have decriminalized it is not significantly different. Thus legalizing the drug is not likely to cause a sharp increase in its supply. Besides, the mere increase in its availability will not lead to an increase in the number of citizens who consume the drug if they are aware of the dangers of its consumption.
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Through appropriate legislation, the government can introduce laws that define who should sell or buy the drug to prevent its use among teenagers. Thus its legalization will not be a threat to the welfare of the minors. Finally, the social costs that are associated with the use of marijuana in terms of morbidity, expenditure, and mortality are low as compared to drugs such as alcohol. Consequently, marijuana should be legalized since the demerits that are associated with its use can be managed.